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By Uri Baruch
Medical device demand is growing as the population is expanding and ageing. Healthcare costs are rising whilst newer and more expensive treatments are being developed. Conditions that were once considered terminal are now being referred to as chronic and are being managed over a period of years extending life expectancy.
All of this is putting increased pressure on healthcare providers - both state and private - to deliver value for money for a growing population that needs increased medical support for an extended period of time.
New avenues are being sought such as medical device recycling where devices are being harvested from deceased patients and are resold in emerging markets to recover part of the cost of the original device. But more innovative and sustainable solutions need to be found.
In this new era of increased costs and extended lifespan a variety of disruptive technologies attempt to provide an answer to some of these issues. This could be through reduced costs, promoting patient health or providing an alternative service which may not necessarily be cheaper but is aimed at a more affluent consumer to deliver improved performance or ease of use in comparison to current offerings.
A range of technologies are enabling advances such as female ovulation kits that use saliva, which are more user-friendly and easy to use than current kits but cost more to develop. This cost is invariably passed on to the consumer, but marketed to a more affluent demographic – and are an example of providing a more informed choice and comfortable user experience to those that can afford it.
Another example is glucose metering without the need to draw blood. As blood sugar fluctuations are the main cause of comorbidities in diabetic patients, an easier solution for glucose monitoring is being sought, which could help millions manage their diabetes and promote diabetic health widely.
3D printing may revolutionise joint replacement surgery, as doctors can build a bespoke limb or joint for patients, which will fit much better, outperforming current solutions and promoting patient recovery as well as postponing replacement in later life.
So who is adopting these new solutions, and identifying the opportunities that are opening up?
Many pharma companies are looking at new disruptive technologies with uncertainty, unsure whether to invest in developing these new technologies or wait until they are proven. But it’s crucial to identify threats or opportunities early on in order to adapt an existing product range or business model to retain market share. Looking back, imagine the impact that the introduction of polio vaccinations had on companies that manufactured iron lungs?
Cambridge Design Partnership is placed at the forefront of innovative technology development and can help clients search new avenues and technologies to create a roadmap of opportunities into which a new product development programme, based on real user needs and requirements, can be created. Additionally, our engineers and scientists work across a range of markets, which enables the translation of ideas, technologies and solutions from consumer to healthcare – to create breakthrough medical devices that are future-proofed and sustainable to meet the needs of the future.
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